University & Community Partnerships

Netter Center 20th Anniversary

More than 500 people from over 70 universities and over two-dozen countries gathered at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania to discuss ways to better use university resources to build community wealth in neighborhoods and promote partnerships with public schools. Setting the tone of the conference, Ira Harkavy, Founder and Director of the Netter Center, opened by arguing that effective partnerships not only advance learning, but also strengthen democracy and improve the quality of life in cities around the world.

Northeast Florida Center for Community Initiatives

The Northeast Florida Center for Community Initiatives is a research organization established in 1994 by three faculty members of the University of North Florida. The center has received over $3 million in applied contract research involving 75 student employees and over 750 student volunteers since its establishment. The center has conducted 35 projects, and is currently managing 8 active projects ranging from infant mortality to the economic impact of the arts in Jacksonville.

Democratic Devolution: How America’s Colleges and Universities Can Strengthen Their Communities

Ira Harkavy and Rita Axelroth Hodges

In a policy memo from the Progressive Policy Institute, Ira Harkavy and Rita Axelroth Hodges of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania call on government to increase its support fo partnerships between communities and institutions of higher education. Given the immense resources available to colleges and universities, these anchor institutions have the potential to ground civic partnerships working to revitalize local communities. To do so, they must change their organizational structures and make civic engagement a core principle across all levels of the institution.  The federal government, by targeting existing resources, directing financial incentives and mobilizing the bully pulpit, can help catalyze this shift.

Researchers Propose Federal Strategy to Engage "Eds"

Five recommendations to encourage universities and colleges to adopt an anchor institution mission
Earlier this month, Ira Harkavy and Rita Axelroth Hodges, of the Netter Center of Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania, released a Progressive Policy Institute paper calling for one type of anchor institution - universities and colleges - to contribute more to the public good.

University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension

The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension is part of the University’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences and partners with Rhode Island’s Agricultural Experiment Station. The program assists community members to improve their lives by extending University-based research to benefit families, farms, and the environment. Although they offer a variety of specialties, the Sustainable and Nurturing Communities program offers a Youth Development Program, 4-H, which provides hands-on learning activities such as, animal and veterinary projects or science and technology camps, which provide the communities’ youth educational experiences so they might become productive citizens.

D'Abate Community School

Led by Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service, teachers and administrators from the D’Abate Elementary School in Olneyville partnered with staff and students from Brown to develop and staff an after-school program that provides extra academic activities for children from households that earn less than $30,000 a year.  The program involves over 200 elementary students and over 150 Brown students through the school year as well as a five-week summer session.  The Rhode Island Department of Edu Read more about D'Abate Community School...

A Crucible Moment: College Learning & Democracy’s Future

The National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement

In this report, the National Task Force on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement challenges America’s universities to embrace their responsibility to rebuild and renew civic learning and democratic engagement.  A national student assessment found that students’ perception of whether their university promoted awareness of important social, political, and economic issues declined from an already low 45 percent of first year students to just 38 percent of fourth year students.  The Task Force calls for colleges across America to expand education services to hone students’ civic knowledge, skills, values, and actions that will prepare them for lives and careers as public servants.  If universities embrace reciprocal partnerships with communities, socially responsible businesses, and governmental agencies, their research, teaching, and learning can benefit students and the community, while replenishing civic capital.

Community-Based Participatory Research: A strategy for Building Healthy Communities and Promoting Health through Policy Change

Meredith Minkler, et. al.

PolicyLink, partnering with the University of California’s School of Public Health, released this paper, which promotes participatory research as a critical component for community-driven effort to improve health and foster policy-level change.  Drawing on eight best practices from around the country and from six case studies from California, the paper demonstrates how community-based participatory research (CBPR) works to improve community well being. One promising CBPR practice is asset identification, where communities identify and validate their own strengths and capabilities to better address community problems or concerns.

Evaluating Community-University Partnerships

Kenneth M. Reardon
Communities and Banking

Community groups are finding partners in local colleges and universities to fight deindustrialization, suburbanization, and disinvestment.